There are certain smaller groups out there that I just connect with for one reason or another. It usually has a lot to do with a perfect storm of quality music, clear passion, and personability of the musicians involved. The Hudson Horror undoubtedly meet these criteria. I was initially drawn in during the promotion of their debut full length, but they have stuck around and this year released a follow-up EP called Ruiner. During this time, I have also had the pleasure to correspond with Dan Kelly, the band's vocalist and a founding member. It seemed natural to sit down with Dan, in real time albeit from across the country, and just shoot the shit about the band, early influences, the current state of the music business, and more.
FlightOfIcarus: First off, how did The Hudson Horror come to be?
Dan Kelly: The Hudson Horror started when Marcus and I, who went to high school together, both came home from college and started hanging out again. We had played music together when we were younger, and neither of us had any projects going on, so we decided to start writing and recording what eventually became the Dark Compulsions EP. Tyreek, another buddy from high school, moved back to the New York area from Boston about a year later, and with that core of a group we began scouting for a drummer and rhythm guitarist to make the transition from studio-only to a live band. ok there's that haha
FOI: What were your ideas going into it together? What were the primary influences?
DK: Well, our common ground had always been Gothenburg melodic death metal- most specifically In Flames, At the Gates, The Haunted, etc. The goal was to write music in that vein. Since discovering that genre, I had branched out into a lot of grindcore and straight forward death metal, so there was a strong desire to include those influences and keep the band on the more extreme side of Melodic Death.
FOI: So the inevitable question following that is how you feel about the constant comparisons to The Black Dahlia Murder.
DK: Haha, I don't mind- I absolutely love them. They're definitely in my top 5 of all time favorite bands. It's funny though, because none of the other members of The Hudson Horror are what I'd consider BDM fans or listen to them on a regular basis. I guess it's an inevitable comparison for any band that wants to play At the Gates style riffs really fast. I've certainly given lots of smaller bands a shot on a friend's recommendation that they sound like a bigger band I dig, so whatever gets people listening is fine by me.
FOI: So if they're in your top 5, who are the other 4?
DK: Top 5 all time or Top 5 right now?
FOI: Let's hear both.
DK: Top 5 all time would be The Deftones, Glassjaw, Poison the Well, The Haunted, and The Black Dahlia Murder. The Deftones, Glassjaw and Poison the Well are the bands really made me want to be a musician and opened my eyes to aggressive music and screamed vocals. I was exposed to those guys around 12-14 years old and they really just set the course for me. The Haunted and The Black Dahlia Murder came a little later on, but they were both equally impactful in terms of how much I dug their music and how it influenced my own listening habits and performances. Top 5 right now would probably be Iron Reagan, Origin, Loma Prieta, Cannibal Corpse and Trapped Under Ice. And that's just based on what I find myself listening to and enjoying the most this month haha.
FOI: Always glad to find another Poison The Well fanatic. I share a passion for all of those bands you listed, but I think PTW and Deftones occupy a special place. Favorite albums from those two?
DK: With the Deftones I am torn between Adrenaline and that fan-made album Like Linus. And that's purely based on nostalgia reasons- Listening to those records always takes me back to being this pissed off, influenceable kid downloading those tracks off Napster or Limewire
FOI: Yes. I recall a review for my own favorite, White Pony, called it a "soundtrack to ritual suicide" or something along those lines. Their is something inherently angry even in their softer songs.
DK: Yeah, it's really dark even at it's most melodic. I'd agree that White Pony is probably objectively their best record.
FOI: What about Poison The Well?
DK: For Poison the Well, it's gotta be You Come Before You. I was 16 when that record came out and the band I was in at the time was one of the openers at this show they played in Connecticut on the supporting tour. It was such a "Holy shit!" moment for me, and the nostalgia attached to that always brings me back to that record. I can't even estimate how many times I've listened to that record. I've got the whole thing memorized. A lot of people really hate on their later records. I don't really get it- I always enjoyed the fact that they tried all this experimental stuff later on. I think they were really ahead of their time. You also gotta give them credit for writing this genre-defining metalcore album (The Opposite of December) and then essentially walking away from that sound to pursue something they enjoyed more. There's something to be said about an artist is not afraid to make stylistic changes if they want to.
FOI: The later stuff is definitely much more diverse. I second you 100% on YCBY. Flawless album in my opinion. I had the same "Holy Shit" reaction the first time I heard "Ghostchant" for sure. But returning to your band, tell me a little about the new EP, Ruiner. I recall there were some lineup changes since you bashed my face in with Nemesis.
DK: Yeah- we got a new guitarist Charlie Geiser, formerly of Long Island Death/Thrash band Carcinogen, who I highly recommend you check out. We also parted ways with our drummer and had Alex Cohen fill in as a session drummer. The majority of the songs written for Ruiner were actually completed or near completion by the time Nemesis came out or shortly after. So, in my eyes Ruiner is an addendum or pt. 2 to Nemesis in a lot of ways. That's why we decided to keep the artwork so similar to the last record.
FOI: How do you feel the new musicians changed the sound, if at all?
DK: I feel like it's a little thrashier and heavier this time around. With the high vocals, I kinda dropped the black metal feel to a certain extent and just kind of screamed at the top of my lungs haha. It's still essentially the same sound though, we just wanted to try a few different things and tweak it a bit.
FOI: I could hear the subtle differences, especially with the vocals. Felt a little bit more Swedish this time around is the best way I can put it. How have the live shows been going?
DK: Pretty good! We just played the record release so far. That was with Malignancy, Hate Diplomacy and a couple other NY bands. Demolition Hammer played this last minute set after Malignancy which was amazing. We were really happy to be a part of that show. I think we got some coming up in January, but there's none scheduled for December.
FOI: Who has been your favorite band to play with so far?
DK: Probably Hate Diplomacy. They're just so much fun to watch haha.
FOI: If you could score a show with any band, who would it be?
DK: At the Gates
FOI: Not a big surprise there. Speaking of future plans, what's next for The Hudson Horror? Sounds like it's a little open, but what would you like to see happen in the next year?
DK: I'd like to get out of state for some shows. At this point it's really doubtful that we'll ever be a touring band, but it'd fun to do some regional stuff at least. We also have a few songs in the works- I'd like to put out another full length in about 2 years.
FOI: Are you content with focusing on local shows and recordings, or is it more dealing with the barriers that would take you beyond that? If you had the financial backing, would that change things?
DK: I'm not really content with it. The other members are cool with just having the band as a hobby, but I feel like we have a lot more potential. Unfortunately I'm limited by what we can do as a group, both financially and dedication-wise. The Hudson Horror is a collective combination of all our input, so I feel like if one of us bailed it would almost be a different band. As such, I'm kind of working with what I have. For myself, having financial backing would change things. I'm not sure if I can speak for everyone in the group on that one though.
FOI: I think that speaks to a lot of smaller groups out there right now. Thus all of the crowd-funding and whatnot. We talked before about the backlash with that and how people don't seem to understand how hard it is to be a touring band.
DK: Yeah, it's definitely not easy to make a living as a musician, especially if you want to play death metal. I don't quite understand the level of backlash crowdfunding receives. If you don't like it then don't contribute, you can't blame the bands when the whole music business model has changed so dramatically over the past 15 years.
At this point Dan had to break for his gym appointment, which as you can tell from the pictures is an important part of his life. I felt inclined to learn a bit more about it.
FOI: I've seen you post pictures of yourself back in the day, and the transformation is impossible to ignore. It reminds me a bit of seeing Henry Rollins go from Black Flag era to Rollins Band era. What spurred your desire to hit the gym?
DK: Haha, thanks I appreciate that man. When I was in my early 20's I noticed I was getting out of shape so I started working out. I fell in love with it and it's just been a consistent part of my routine since then. It was kind of surprising, because I've never been a fan of sports or anything like that, but once I started lifting I really got into it.
FOI: Any advice for the metalheads out there wanting to get swole?
DK: Well everyone has their own theories on what the best type of training is, like powerlifting vs. bodybuilding vs. crossfit and that sort of thing. I'd say just find something you enjoy and stick with it. The most important component is consistency, especially for a novice, so at first just really focus on staying motivated and consistent. After it becomes habitual is when people will generally get really hardcore with their regimens and whatnot, but at first it's really just about emulating what you see people who are already in shape doing.
FOI: Good advice. Any favorite workout song or album?
DK: Reality Unfolds by Trapped Under Ice. The demo version. Also anything by Battlemaster or Municipal Waste will usually do the trick as well.
FOI: Circling back to Ruiner. What is your favorite of the new songs to perform and why?
DK: "His Most Beloved." It's got plenty of awesome Melodic death riffs and I'm really happy with how the lyrics came out. I also finally got my way and was able to have a decent slam section in one of our songs.
FOI: "You gotta slam if you wanna jam" amirite?
DK: Couldn't agree more.
FOI: Any other musical ideas you're hoping to incorporate more of the next recording cycle?
DK: I kind of want to include more of Charlie's Death/Thrash type of riffs into the mix. I always want to go faster and heavier haha. Also, Tyreek kind of keeps going deeper and deeper into left field with his contributions, so I'm interested to see how our progressive side will continue to develop.
FOI: Well we are interested to hear how it turns out and will continue to support you any way that we can. Anything else you would like to share with our readers about the band or the EP?
DK: Not really, just check us out and feel free to hit us up on Facebook or Instagram! We also just booked a show on January 4th at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, NY for anyone that can come out! Thanks for the interview dude, it's always fun talkin and I appreciate it
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